A leading Sheffield environmental campaigner has criticised Government plans which he believes could end air quality monitoring by local councils.
Neil Parry, of the East End Quality of Life Initiative, has campaigned for a reduction in air pollution around the M1 motorway and industrial areas close to housing.
Mr Parry said: “The Government is currently consulting on proposals that could end local authority air quality monitoring.
“Its motivation is saving money under the ‘red tape’ agenda. Local Air Quality Management is seen as red tape with hardly any reference to the public health benefits. Yet air pollution is the biggest public health risk after smoking.
“In Sheffield, air pollution leads to around 500 deaths per year, and exacerbates the ill health of vulnerable people with cardio vascular and respiratory conditions. The health costs in Sheffield are £160 million.”
Mr Parry said air quality monitoring by Sheffield Council at spots around the city has been important to identify areas needing mitigation.
He added: “Local authority monitoring is essential for accountability, to demonstrate compliance with health targets and to provide an assessment of actions to improve air quality.”
A spokesman for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: “We are reviewing the role and responsibilities of local authorities to help ensure action is taken by those with relevant powers.”